Economically speaking the most important thing all of us can do RIGHT NOW is spread the word about the Paycheck Protection Program. Starting today, it is now open to independent contractors as well as nonprofits, small businesses, and the self-employed. We are doing everything we can to spread the word among nonprofits, AND I am calling my friends and neighbors and explaining the program to them. So far, no one I talked to was already aware of it or was planning on applying.
This is a BIG PROBLEM from an equity standpoint, especially for isolated communities in rural areas with no internet, low-income communities, people with disabilities, the unbanked, and others who have issues with mountains of paperwork. These barriers will undoubtably be compounded for communities of color as is the case with health outcomes in COVID-19 and every other area of our economy. Access to capital through the PPP for low-income and moderate income Marylanders such as housekeepers, Uber drivers, handymen, hair stylists and massage therapists could be the most democratic thing we’ve ever done. Or, if we do nothing, it could be a horrible experience with modern-day redlining. Already we are seeing even well-established nonprofits having difficulty accessing the PPP through their OWN banks, so we can only imagine what a mess it will be for members of the community to navigate this application process unless we help.
If your nonprofit or business has any extra capacity during this time and you are wondering how you can help — learn about the PPP, reach out to people, nonprofits and businesses, and help them apply.
We wish you and your family all the best wishes for health and safety, and for those of you whose families and friends are directly affected by COVID-19. Please know that the nonprofit sector is working on your behalf to address immediate needs and advocate for the resources for individuals, nonprofits and businesses reeling from the health and economic effects of the pandemic.